Posted By: Sarah - Vet

Freddy gets a lump on his hind leg

Freddy and Molly are a beautiful pair of pugs who arrived at their home from a rescue centre. We’re not sure how or if they are related but they are inseparable. They are both sweet natured, friendly little dogs but despite all the training and reassurance their owner gives them, something from their past always makes them anxious when they come and see us, particularly Molly.

Fortunately, they are a healthy pair and we tend to only see them for an annual check over and vaccination. This year, there was a slight concern about Freddy; a tiny lump that had been noted under the skin of a hind leg the previous year had grown to about two centimetres across – a fair size on the leg of a little dog.

It is impossible to be sure from a physical examination whether a lump is benign or potentially cancerous, so we decided to perform a fine needle aspirate to try and establish what sort of growth it was. This involves passing a hypodermic needle into a lump and gently applying negative pressure to try and remove some cells into the needle. These are then blown and carefully smeared onto a slide and sent to a pathology laboratory. Most dogs and cats tolerate this well and Freddy was very patient with his owner holding and reassuring him.

The result came back quite swiftly. Unfortunately, the lump was diagnosed as a mast cell tumour. These are relatively common in dogs but rarely seen in cats. Mast cells contain granules of histamine and heparin which we know to cause itching and swelling in allergic reactions, so sometimes these lumps can swell and then reduce in size again. They also vary from relatively benign to very aggressive and malignant. Fortunately, the laboratory suggested a more benign form was most likely in Freddy’s case, but they would need to examine a piece of tissue rather than just cells to be certain.

Freddy was booked in for surgery as soon as we could arrange it. The surgery consisted of removing the tumour under general anaesthesia with a sizeable margin of normal looking tissue as mast cell tumours are notorious for spreading out from the recognisable tumour. He recovered well from the surgery and was back at home with Molly that evening.

We sent the tumour away for analysis and were all very pleased to hear a week later that not only had it been completely removed with no abnormal cells at the edge of the surgical site, but that it was one of the more benign forms of mast cell tumour, so Freddy should not have any more problems with it.   

The other piece of good news is that when Freddy came to have his stitches removed, his kind owner brought us a delicious home made cake! It did not last long…

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